D&D General Forgotten Realms, Greyhawk, and Canon: Stare Decisis in D&D

Snarf Zagyg, you are my favorite Rules Lawyer.

I just realized that oddly, no one in my games is an attorney. Corpos, medical, and tech are overrepresented, and I’m psyched that a friend who now runs his family farm wants to play again (it’s all remote), but nope, no attorneys.
 

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For what it’s worth, my campaigns are
Greyhawk 576 CY plus
  • all the Greyhawk campaigns I have been involved in. Lots of retired PC’s turned NPC.
  • some but not all of 3e’s Living Greyhawk Gazetteer and PaizoHawk
  • from 2e era, mostly just the Marklands and Ivid the Undying
  • magpied materials from other publishers and the internet. There’s about as much Raging Swan as official 2e in my Greyhawk.

In the last few years, because of planar action, my players have been getting hits about another world called the Sword Coast. On the recommendation of a player who is an FR fan, it’s the Gray Box original publication version.

On aesthetic, respect for fans games (“reliance”, did Snarf say?), and best for me bases, I like 5.24 using 576 CY Greyhawk, as close to Gold Box as they can.
 

Staffan

Legend
As for the canon topic, I've always wondered, when talking about canon in the context of D&D (or any fictional franchise), and people mentions "this is/is not canon": is "canon for what?". Because canon is only useful when you trying to "study" something ("I'm reading this series of novels; is this novel relevant/canon to my reading order, or can I skip it?"), or when you're doing a professional or semi-professional research on something (like, writing an article for a wiki).
I think we probably get a skewed perspective on the importance of canon in these parts. That's because we're on a message board and discussing things, which is precisely the environment where canon is important, or at least distinguishing what is and isn't canon is. Like, if we're discussing Eberron and I talk about the Droaam Reconquista where Breland used the armies freed up from the Last War, bolstered by Cyran refugees, to retake parts of Droaam? Yeah, that's not a canon thing. So if I'm talking about how that developed, it's useful to know that it's a thing from my Eberron, not a canon thing.
 


Staffan

Legend
And what is more important for your campaign: the canon info or your "headcanon"?

Sure, canon is important when referencing info from a sourcebook. And that's where its importance ends.
As an example, look at the recent thread about Warforged aging. I think there's some value to the discussion to having the info from the Eberron campaign setting book: since the oldest ones are about 30 years old, none have yet suffered any aging effects. It is theorized that they will accumulate enough wear and tear to be considered middle age at around 150 years, but after that no-one has any idea. Once you have that info, you can speculate around it, or decide "nah, that's dumb" and ignore it in favor of something else. But I think there's a point to having a common starting position.

In addition, there are often dependencies in a setting. So if you change thing A, you should look at the things that feed into and out of A and consider how your change will affect those.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Supporter
Snarf Zagyg, you are my favorite Rules Lawyer.

I just realized that oddly, no one in my games is an attorney. Corpos, medical, and tech are overrepresented, and I’m psyched that a friend who now runs his family farm wants to play again (it’s all remote), but nope, no attorneys.

You should count your blessings.

Most people cause happiness wherever they go; attorneys cause happiness whenever they go.
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
Epic
And what is more important for your campaign: the canon info or your "headcanon"?

Sure, canon is important when referencing info from a sourcebook. And that's where its importance ends.
Steffan already explained this in 115 but I'd take the clarification a step further. By all indications none of us are playing in each other's campaigns & any discussion is either about what is actually published or things that are effectively impossible to discuss any deeper than "well I wrote this thing">"ok I didn't or wrote something else and neither of our games is affected by the other".

For whatever reason a lot of people like to expect people not in their game to treat "well I wrote this thing" as if it were more like "well this exact thing was published in xxx and I expect you to accept it" even though the only real response to a disagreement over a headcannon "well I wrote this thing" can't really go much further than "well I didn't and don't play at your table". Differentiating cannon & headcannon is an easy way of avoiding that problem while adding the potentially relevant ""i wrote this thing" element to a discussion without undue expectations for it.
 


Zeromaru X

Arkhosian scholar and coffee lover
As an example, look at the recent thread about Warforged aging. I think there's some value to the discussion to having the info from the Eberron campaign setting book: since the oldest ones are about 30 years old, none have yet suffered any aging effects. It is theorized that they will accumulate enough wear and tear to be considered middle age at around 150 years, but after that no-one has any idea. Once you have that info, you can speculate around it, or decide "nah, that's dumb" and ignore it in favor of something else. But I think there's a point to having a common starting position.

In addition, there are often dependencies in a setting. So if you change thing A, you should look at the things that feed into and out of A and consider how your change will affect those.
Steffan already explained this in 115 but I'd take the clarification a step further. By all indications none of us are playing in each other's campaigns & any discussion is either about what is actually published or things that are effectively impossible to discuss any deeper than "well I wrote this thing">"ok I didn't or wrote something else and neither of our games is affected by the other".

For whatever reason a lot of people like to expect people not in their game to treat "well I wrote this thing" as if it were more like "well this exact thing was published in xxx and I expect you to accept it" even though the only real response to a disagreement over a headcannon "well I wrote this thing" can't really go much further than "well I didn't and don't play at your table". Differentiating cannon & headcannon is an easy way of avoiding that problem while adding the potentially relevant ""i wrote this thing" element to a discussion without undue expectations for it.

Sure. When discussing about a published setting, it's better to stick to the canonical info for many reasons - including the fact the canon serves as a guideline for knowing what to talk about in the conversation. It would be weird to be talking about something, and someone begins to mention random stuff that nobody knows about (including, but not limited to, homebrew stuff). The canon allows us to be all in the same track.

But that's what I call "research/study". It's useful for talking about the lore with other fans, and to be used as a guideline and a mine of ideas for your campaign. But sticking too faithfully to it can have its own problems, specially in bigger settings, as you need to determine what's canon for you.

For instance, the only Greyhawk book I have is the Living Gazetteer, and I don't know much about earlier books, as I don't have them. For me, my canon Greyhawk is limited to the Living Gazetteer.

And Greyhawk has less books than the Forgotten Realms, and is relatively easy to get up to date with the greater Greyhawk canon. Now, we don't need to talk about the Forgotten Realms and its hundreds of books, novels, web articles, Ed Greenwood's lore posts on forums/Twitter/patreon, etc., that keep to be updated every day...
 

Staffan

Legend
Sure. When discussing about a published setting, it's better to stick to the canonical info for many reasons - including the fact the canon serves as a guideline for knowing what to talk about in the conversation. It would be weird to be talking about something, and someone begins to mention random stuff that nobody knows about (including, but not limited to, homebrew stuff). The canon allows us to be all in the same track.

But that's what I call "research/study". It's useful for talking about the lore with other fans, and to be used as a guideline and a mine of ideas for your campaign.
My point was that this is why you'll see a lot of concern about canon on the message boards. Message boards is where we talk, not where we do (generally speaking). So canon is more of a concern here than it is at your table.
 

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